The first page of the booklet "Healthy Babies - It's a Family Affair" includes this letter from Secretary Adams.
It is my pleasure to present the third annual report on the Department's WIC and Family Case Management programs. These programs have contributed to a steady reduction in the state's infant mortality rate, which reached 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 - a rate that is tied with the lowest rate in the state's history. As a result of these efforts, Illinois' ranking in infant mortality among the states has risen from 44th in 1990 to 31st in 2005.
Illinois is unique in its effort to integrate the delivery fo these two major programs for low-income women and children. The Department has been able to blend the delivery, financing, monitoring and evaluation of these programs through innovation and performance management. This comprehensive integration of maternal and child health programing is providing the foundation for future expansion and enhancement through the integration of additional services for this vulnerable population.
The Department has achieved uncommon results through this effort. Rates of prenatal weight gain, immunizations, breastfeeding, well child care and developmental screening have been steadily improving. Crude rates of premature birth and infant mortality among Medicaid-eligible pregnant women who participate in these programs are substantially better than thsoe observed among similar women who did not participate in either program. This pattern of success has been sustained for nine consecutive years.
While we continue to make progress, there is a persistent racial disparity in infant mortality that must be eliminated. An African American infant born in Illinois is still more than two and a half times as likely than a Caucasian infant to die before reaching one year of age. Our current efforts are commendable, but they are not enough.
This tragic loss of life must not continue and its disparate impact on Illinois' minority communities must be addressed. I look forward to working with each of you to improve the health of all Illinoisans.
Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.